Need Answers? Charles Johnson, UW-Eau Claire Student Body President, Has Them

Briana Novacek

Charles Johnson
Charles Johnson

Charles Johnson was elected the new Student Body President at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in May of 2019 for a one-year term, with Anna Ziebell serving as the new Student Body Vice-President. Charlie is a senior at UWEC, majoring in Political Science, with an intriguing certificate in Integrated Strategic Communications. He hails from Falcon Heights, Minnesota, whose claim to fame is hosting the Minnesota State Fair.  Charlie offers his insider knowledge of Eau Claire and campus life in this fun Q&A.

Volume One: Why did you choose the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire?

Johnson: I toured it in mid-February, one of the coldest days of the year, and it was snowing, but I still loved it. And I was like, if I can find this university appealing and attractive on a day like today, I’m gonna love it on a day like this [gesturing toward the beautiful summer day outside]. 

V1: What do you think makes Eau Claire and the wider Chippewa Valley a great place to learn and live?

Johnson: There’s just so much to do and so much to get involved in. It’s just kind of up to you to go out there and find it. I think Eau Claire is kind of a hidden gem in the state of Wisconsin and in the United States because what you’re able to find here, you’re not going to be able to find many other places ... personally, I never get bored here. There’s always something you can find to do. I mean, everyone talks about it, but Justin Vernon, what he did in the downtown area, that’s great. If we can continue to produce people like that, I mean, Eau Claire is gonna be a hotspot for decades to go. I just get excited talking about it and being here. It reaffirms my decision to come to this university.

V1: What are you most excited about in your new role as Student Body President?

Johnson: I think what I’m most excited for is trying to fix the problem of off-campus housing and the landlords in these neighborhoods ... Landlords that just don’t really do their job, don’t take care of the students, for lack of a better term, and the ones that kind of take advantage of students. That gets me excited, thinking about working with that and the collaborations and the teamwork that can go into tackling that issue.

V1: What are some strengths of the student body at UWEC?

Johnson: I think a strength of this student body is respecting and trying to get involved in the community itself ... It’s a very talented and ambitious student body that is going to go out and make changes in this world, whether they’re small or big. I think everyone will have an impact of some sort.

V1: How do you think UWEC can, or already does, positively impact our community?

Johnson: I think they positively impact it by bringing 10 thousand students to the community – the money that that brings, the future workers that that brings ... I also think [the university] has played a role in revitalizing this city ... I think this University is kind of the shining star of this city.

V1: What is your advice for getting through college successfully?

Johnson: Get involved, get involved 100 percent ... If you step on this campus as a freshman and don’t get involved, it’s gonna go by in four years and you’re gonna regret it ... There’ll be those stressful days, but in the end when you’re looking back on it, you’ll have more positive memories than negative ones. And it’ll make your four years here some of the best of your life.

V1: Do you have any advice for incoming freshmen?

Johnson: Approach it with a positive attitude. You’ll have four years here. A blink of an eye, and you’ll be walking across the stage. Have some fun, take it seriously, but make some memories because it’ll pay off in the end.

V1: What’s the best-kept secret on campus?

Johnson: What’s hidden on the fourth floor of Davies Center. Not many are privy to this information, but those who are seem to never want to share. 

V1: What are your top 3 favorite places to hang out in Eau Claire?

Johnson: 1) Phoenix Park: you’re kind of right on that confluence of the rivers and then you’re overlooking the new Pablo Center and Haymarket. 2) UWEC:  Most students would probably find that a little weird, but I find [Davies Center] specifically very welcoming and calm and you’re able to get work done here. 3) Wherever my friends are: whether it’s somewhere downtown, somewhere down on Water Street, somewhere in one of the neighborhoods, as long as you’re with a group of people, it’s gonna be a fun time.